Henry Hikes to Fitchburg: Illustrated Children’s Adaptation of Thoreau’s Philosophy


Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, by author and artist D. B. Johnson, based on a famous passage from Walden, contrasts two different approaches to life — one prioritizing productivity and one worshiping wonder. It tells the tale of Henry David Thoreau and his unnamed friend, both cast as lovable bears, who decide to meet in the town of Fitchburg one summer evening, thirty miles away. Henry’s friend insists that the train is the most efficient way to get there and resolves to work until he has enough money to buy the 90-cent ticket, doing chores for neighbors — including some of Thoreau’s equally esteemed contemporaries, like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But Henry decides that walking, while less “efficient,” is the better way to get to Fitchburg — more present, more transcendent, more full of wonder.

View a synopsis of the book and illustrations at brain pickings.